Making his first public appearance since his offices were sealed whilst out of the country on an international trip, the Director-General (DG) of the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo has demanded to know what crime he has committed to deserve such persecution by government.
Katholo was appearing before the Parliamentary Public Account Committee (PAC) chaired by Phikwe West legislature Dithapelo Keoraopetse this Wednesday.
Tackling the hot potato which saw him seek redress from the courts, Katholo said he was still clueless as to why until now his offices have remained sealed off and declared a crime scene by the Directorate of Intelligence (DIS).
The DCEC DG and another senior officer’s offices were sealed on May 3rd, and remain sealed despite a court order for the documents inside to be taken by the SGG to the court registrar for safekeeping as the two security organs continue to battle it out.
“What crime or allegation rendered the office of the DG a crime scene? Who committed such a crime, is it the Directorate as an institution, or the DG himself? What evidence was being preserved by ceiling the office of the DG and the staff officer,” Katholo rhetorically asked the PAC committee.
According to Katholo his understanding of the law was that he was empowered to investigate anyone or any institution without the interference of any outside body or institution, including the DIS.
“The DCEC act entrusts the DG with direction and administration of the DCEC, CETA expressly provides that any decision including investigation decisions by DG shall not be subjected to the direction and control of any person or authority . The DCEC therefore should ideally carry out its mandate not subject to control of any institution or authority,” he said.
However turning to the recent episode, Katholo said it was not entirely a surprise to him that he was being persecuted. “When combating crime it is something to expect once you get into a situation where you step on certain individuals toes there will be attempts to interfere with the operations of the organisation. I didn’t see and still don’t see the basis of the whole exercise. Any information within the Directorate is actually protected by law. There is no way you can demand information by the DCEC wholesale,” he charged
Katholo further told the PAC that in the meantime while his office is considered a crime scene he shall rumours to work at a little office offered to him by one of the junior officers which was unfortunate because he was unable to access some information in his offices that needed his urgent attention.
Asked how much Botswana bleeds as a result of rampant corruption Katholo revealed that just last year alone Botswana lost a whopping P 600 million to corruption.
Briefly touching on the most corrupt ministries, the DCEC Boss placed at the top of the list of corrupt ministries, the Ministry of local Government and that of Transport.
The DG further revealed that currently, they have investigated 215 cases that they have already referred to the DPP for prosecution.
Meanwhile, his counterpart, Peter Magosi, the DG of the DIS when appearing before the committee recently, said that the DIS does not interfere with the operations of the DCEC but is only compelled to act when incidents of corruption become a national security threat and that happens when the corruption seems to go unaddressed by the DCEC.
Meanwhile, the court case in which Katholo has dragged the Attorney general (AG) and the DIS to court for interference still awaits judgment after the presiding judge was said to have contracted the Covid-19 virus, leading to the postponement of judgment indefinitely. The case is before the Lobatse High court with swelling rumours that the case may be heard before a panel of three judges instead of just one.